-As US airport considers aircraft servicing center
Barely three months after the opening of its new passenger terminal A, authorities at the Roberts International Airport (RIA) say negotiations have begun for the construction of terminal B, to be used as a transit terminal-a major boost to the return of the Robert hub.
"We are also in the quest of demolishing the old terminal for the construction of Terminal B, which will be a transit terminal. Negotiations are on the way for the construction," RIA Managing Director Bishop John Allan Klayee told journalists briefly before a tour of the new airport facility.
Flanked by his Deputy for Administration Mr. Martin J. Hayes, Bishop Klayeeappears confident that the construction of the new transit terminal B will boost both aircraft and passengers inflow and restore Liberia's competitiveness in the air transport industry.
"The reason why we want to do terminal B. is to use it as a transit hub, so that we can take it back to where we were like before and that will boost the passenger flow and this will also boost the inflow of flight as well," he said.
The discussion comes amidst a partnership agreement signed between RIA and the Hartfield Jackson Airport in Atlanta, Georgia recently as the latter considers the construction of an aircraft servicing center at RIA to service and sell aircraft spare parts. Such service center is currently limited on the continent. When constructed this could attract aircrafts that are in distress around the continent and beyond to seek services here.
"We've signed a partnership agreement with Hartfield Jackson airport. (They are) interested in coming here in partnering with RIA in building an aircraft maintenance center here where they will sell aircraft spare parts. Only South Africa can boast of such facility and so if that center is built here it will attract operators from around the world and Africa to come here for servicing," Bishop Klayee explained.This development also comes at the time American airliner Delta, which is based in Atlanta has agreed to handle the cargo services at the RIA, instead of immediately resuming passenger flights.
"We had discussions with Delta Airline to return, but from all indications, Delta is not willing to return to continue with passengers' service but they are rather interested in handling the airport's cargo service.I accepted their proposal to start with cargo," the RIA MD said adding that feasibility studies on all the discussions are expected to begin during a follow up meeting this December.
He was excited saying these are welcoming news for the country as efforts are being made to improve services at the airport to attract passenger aircrafts.
He said rehabilitation work on the runway which is the longest in the sub-region has been completed, while concerns which were being raised about the new passenger terminal are being address.
The RIA Managing Director said the rehabilitation of the runway has restored some level of confidence among airlines that once abandoned their services here due to the terrible condition of the runway.As it stands Air France has agreed to resume flight here, while negotiations with Air Turkish is ongoing, BishpKlayee said.
However, despite these good news, the airport faces one major challenger which is electric power. Authorities burn 80 gallons of diesel fuel every hour, and the Managing Director said the cost of fuel accounts for 80 percent of the airport's expenditure.
In order to address this power issue, he said plans are on the way to construct a solar power dam that will electrify the entire airport and its surrounding areas. He did not say when the project will start.
He also commented on concerns raised about the new terminal saying, the sewage system had been rectified, while external air conditioners have been installed. He said one of the reasons why the jet bridges is not been used at the moment is because they have sent operators abroad for training and upon their return they would be in the position to manage the facility. He said the usage has been suspended for now because of fears that when the operators are not train in its usage they could cause problems for aircrafts.